If we had to choose a word to describe 2021, it would be resilience. In yet another year where it felt like the world sometimes stopped—we persevered. Collectively, our people came together with passion and innovation to achieve impressive engineering feats, impactful social programs, and progressive initiatives that enriched Ciena's culture.

While much of 2021 was spent in virtual environments—1,364,867 hosted Zoom meetings, to be exact—we got creative with how we showed up for our customers, our colleagues, and our communities.

Tackling climate change

As part of our efforts to integrate sustainable thinking into our daily business practices, we launched an Environmental Steering Committee in April. We also announced our commitment to becoming Carbon Neutral by 2024 as one of our goals for impacting the planet.

In 2021, we also:

  • Purchased carbon offsets to compensate for 71% of FY2020 emissions, including site energy use, business travel, and contract manufacturer emissions
  • Purchased Renewable Energy Credits to compensate for 50% of FY2021 site energy use, emissions-wise*

Our efforts paid off. In August, we received Ecovadis' Platinum medal, their highest recognition possible for reaching the top 1% of global sustainability assessments.

Our commitment to sustainability took many forms, including reductions in our carbon footprint through product innovation and substantial investments in our WaveLogic™ Coherent Optics technology. Ciena's WaveLogic innovations yield significant reductions in space, power, cooling, and the number of network elements our customers need to meet global network capacity demands. In 2021, we started shipping WaveLogic™ 5 Nano, which will deliver improvements with more than 50% reduction in power/bit versus previous technologies. Our efforts proved that what’s good for business and “doing good” are anything but mutually exclusive.

Innovation 'firsts'

Our technology goes beyond environmental impact. Ciena's industry-leading WaveLogic technology continued to break records of what was previously possible, with multiple industry firsts in 2021. By leveraging Ciena's WaveLogic™ 5 Extreme (WL5e), Colt Technology Services was the first telco to carry 400GE and Private Wave services across Europe and the Asia Pacific. And, Marcatel was the first operator to deploy a network in Mexico to carry 600G waves across long-haul distances using Ciena's WL5e.

As 5G becomes front and center in our lives, it's changing how the world operates, and network architecture must evolve to keep pace. As a trusted provider to 85% of the world's largest service providers, we continuously adapt to ensure we provide our customers with leading technology and some of the brightest minds in the industry.

The announcement of the integration of Ciena's xHaul solutions with Samsung's 5G solutions will support the new generation of high-bandwidth applications and services that are enabled by expanding 5G networks. We also announced the acquisition of Vyatta to address the growing market opportunity to transform the edge, including 5G networks and cloud environments, to help our customers achieve virtualized networks and deploy new features faster and more cost-effectively.

Ciena Cares—it’s in our DNA

In addition to the impact of our technology, our people made a significant impact inside and outside of work. While life served us unexpected challenges, we challenged ourselves to give back more this year. We committed to log 20,000+ volunteer hours as a company in 2021, and we smashed that goal … in June.

Through Ciena Cares, Ciena's charitable giving program that provides corporate matching for employee charitable donations and rewards for volunteer service, we:

  • Volunteered more than 34,000 hours which resulted in 1,400 collective days of volunteerism by 1,800+ employees
  • Generated USD 2.5 million in matched donations from Ciena and employee donations

Our most significant day of volunteerism was May 4th, which Ciena designated as a company-wide day of volunteerism and service. Ciena teammates around the world volunteered more than 1,155 hours on that day alone as a part of the company’s 'Go Do Good' initiative.

Accessibility for all

What good are the most advanced networks if not all have access? This question serves as the basis for our digital inclusion initiative, which expanded in 2021. In January, we launched the Digital Inclusion Grantmaking Pathway to further our commitment of USD 10 million over a five-year period. This grantmaking pathway enables Ciena colleagues to nominate mission-aligned organizations that are important to them. Ciena teams leveraged the initiative to expand educational opportunities to underserved students worldwide and provided more than 24,000 students and educators with $785,000 in approved grants throughout the year.

One of our most considerable grant efforts involved our partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum, which focuses on delivering free or subsidized broadband connectivity and e-learning to underserved students and educational institutions in selected Pacific Islands. Over three years, this grant will positively impact up to 2,000 students.

We also partnered with non-profits to deepen our ties to local communities such as Academy Achievers in London to close the digital and educational gap among students interested in STEM careers. So far through this partnership, Ciena has funded 400 laptops for students across 20 schools. This relationship is ongoing—in early 2022, Ciena will implement the laptops in the schools and provide mentoring and employee engagement opportunities with students.

"Through our digital inclusion grants, we seek to unleash the creativity of our people and expand our reach, encouraging our teams around the world to come together to support initiatives and organizations aligned with our mission. Through improved access, enabling technologies, and enhanced digital skills, our digital inclusion goal is to provide opportunities for 100,000 underserved students in our communities around the world." - Erik Lichter, Deputy General Counsel and Head of Sustainability Strategy and Operations

LatinX launch

In support of our People Promise, the cornerstone of our culture, Ciena is dedicated to fostering an environment that prioritizes happiness, a sense of belonging, and vibrancy. Our existing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), such as those focused on women, LGBTQ+, Black and African heritage, and early in career, participated in volunteerism days and events to uplift diverse cultures, elevate voices, and offer unique perspectives.

One of the most memorable events was International Women's Day, with Ciena speakers engaged throughout the regions. Around the world, the event recognized women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements, and personal experiences.

To add to the momentum of our existing ERGs, we launched LatinX at Ciena to cultivate the exchange of knowledge and experiences from our Latin-based colleagues worldwide.

"The launch of the LatinX ERG is one of my biggest highlights of 2021. This space will not only allow for great collaboration amongst the Hispanic community, but it will enable us to come together to help others pursue their own personal and professional development.” - Fabio Medina, LatinX executive sponsor and Vice President and General Manager, Americas MSOs and CALA

Powering networks, empowering people

Though we may not all have been together in person this year, our passion and innovation created meaningful connections for our customers, our colleagues, and our communities. It is empowering to work at a company that prioritizes humanity alongside technology, and it was that focus on humanity that enabled us to persevere through challenging times. 2021 was many things—some we may wish not to remember—but what we can’t forget is our unshakeable resilience. It carried us through a tough year and now propels us forward as we look with optimism and confidence to the year ahead.

*Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are a market-based instrument that certifies the bearer owns one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated from a renewable energy resource.